Section: Art of Living
On Being Human
Lately, I have taken to reading young adult novels while commuting– books about being human, and about be-coming. These books ask questions, as practitioners often do during a Feldenkrais® lesson. They speak to problems; some are proverbs, or humorous. They describe characters with myriad behaviors, many with complex personalities, neither entirely kind nor all cruel. How youth are introduced to adult life correlates to how clients are introduced to a somatic approach to self-knowledge, experiencing themselves in this moment and place.

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Mindfulness in Movement: Move Yourself to Know Yourself
The word “mindfulness” is everywhere these days and often associated with a sitting meditation practice. As we sit and follow our breath, we become more "mindful," a term Jon Kabat-Zinn defines as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Although sitting meditation is perhaps one of the well-known avenues for exploring mindfulness, there are others. One of these is the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education.

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Movement as Metaphor
If you are a human being, you have a deep natural wellspring of creativity that is your greatest resource for vitality.

I can’t think of anything that will universally improve all aspects of your life more than increasing your understanding of how to tap into this power than the Feldenkrais Method®.

My own experience as a practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method, a transformative somatic movement practice, has taught me that creativity is one of the central components of the experience of being human.

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Power Principles for Difficult Times: A Feldenkrais® Approach
With little exposure to the Feldenkrais Method®, it might get labeled as a physical movement modality, but it is really a way of evolving all human movement which includes emotion and thinking. Feldenkrais himself survived (while some family and friends did not) times beyond most Americans’ imagination. His work was shaped by the desire to help others navigate such devastating times.

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Investing in My Future: How I Changed My Life One Feldenkrais® Lesson at a Time
I could start this story off by saying that I began working with a Feldenkrais practitioner because of a repetitive stress injury, but that would be only partially true. The complete truth is that I sought out a practitioner because my life lacked color. I plotted through my days even though I had a lot going for me: a good job, good friends, a beautiful apartment in a lovely city, acceptance into a graduate program where I was going to focus on my dream of being a writer.

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Embodying Life
Russell Delman provides fresh insight into how the Feldenkrais Method can meet the needs of a changing world. In the 30 plus years since he began his study with Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, he has trained over 2500 Feldenkrais practitioners around the world and maintained a private practice in California. Along with his wife, Linda (also a Feldenkrais Trainer), Russell developed the Feldenkrais-India Project teaching Mother Theresa's Sisters of Charity to work with brain-injured children. Russell's approach to his own life, steeped in Zen, Focusing and Gestalt Psychology, is ever present in his understanding of Dr. Feldenkrais.

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Stand like Never Before
IF: There has been a movement over the last decade to encourage people to stop sitting at work and start standing. From a Feldenkrais perspective, is standing really the silver bullet we’ve been told it is?

SB: We have a tendency in our culture to fear monger. A researcher will discover the horrible effects of “X,” and then we’re told to avoid it. Sitting is a great example of this, an activity that’s now referred to as “the new smoking.” We’ve been told not to sit, so we’ve started to stand. But what happens when people who have been sitting at a computer for 8 hours a day start to stand at their computer for 8 hours a day? Often the answer is pain.

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Posture or Acture?
The idea of posture as good vertical standing is familiar to most everyone. The word "posture" originates from words that mean position or station and may be used to imply a static position. Although vertical posture is an important concept, Moshe Feldenkrais did not feel that the word was the best description of human function. He coined the term “acture.”

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The Ball, the Bowl, and the Slinky
My journey exploring the connection between my head, pelvis, and spine—or the ball, the bowl, and the slinky as I like to imagine them--began with my own personal journey in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador, spending time with an indigenous tribe. As our bus rumbled down the Avenue of the Volcanoes toward the edge of the rainforest, where a small plane would fly us deeper into the jungle, our group leader stood and turned towards us.

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Breathing to your Peak
I have been a dancer and athlete since I was five years old. At the age of 25, after traveling the world and studying dances in their cultural context, I decided to enroll in a contemporary dance program.

After suffering a severe injury by way of malpractice, my dance career was put on hold indefinitely. I was told by a physician, “you can forget about a career in dance.” It was during this period of acute pain that I was introduced to the Feldenkrais Method. I changed my dance program to specialize in choreography and continued studying the Feldenkrais Method. In 2006, I moved from Quebec, Canada, to California, and in 2009, enrolled in a Professional Feldenkrais Program. The Feldenkrais Method taught me to adapt to my limitations as a dancer, choreographer, and traveler. As my situation improved through the application of Feldenkrais’ principles, I freed myself from chronic pain. In 2014, in celebration of my recovery, I joined my passions for movement and lifelong romance with travel and decided to go on an adventure to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro.

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What’s the right way to breathe? A different take on breathing exercises
What’s the best way to breathe?

Through the mouth or the nose?

More in the belly, or in the chest?

Is it always better to breathe deeply?

Some techniques teach the expansion of the abdomen as you breathe in, others as you breathe out. Which is better?

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Feldenkrais® Breathing Lesson for Calming the Mind & Clearing Emotions
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Breathing is Life, and Life is Breathing


Repeat for the course of your life.

Sounds easy, simple…right?

Well, our bodies tell us differently. How we hold ourselves in varied positions and postures throughout the day paints a picture of our physical stories.

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Do You Live a Short Distance from Your Body?
"Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” – James Joyce
(From the short story “A Painful Case”)

I just love this line. But what does early 20th-century Irish literature have to do with my work as a Feldenkrais practitioner?

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Tripping on Injury Prevention
One of my new students asked me how doing Feldenkrais lessons would help in daily life. Among the benefits of doing Awareness Through Movement lessons, injury prevention is high on my list. My first vivid experience of this was during my practitioner training. As I was going down some steps, I noticed rather calmly that I had missed one. Instead of falling, my foot gently landed, and I kept going. That sense of ease and coordination was new to me. Growing up, I had been the kid in school who always had skinned and scabbed knees. People described me as athletic, but never graceful.

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Locating Your Hip Joints and Why It Matters
The Feldenkrais Method® has no set lesson plans. We don’t have a school board. There’s no one dictating to me what themes to choose when teaching.

So, after six years of teaching, I follow my hunches when planning what to teach. I listen to my private clients, to students in my classes. I continue with my advanced study. Patterns emerge. Something comes into the foreground. Now it’s hip joints which keep presenting themselves to me.

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Hypermobility: Less is More
The term "hypermobility" covers a whole spectrum of excess joint mobility. It refers to everything from being able to bend your hand back towards your forearm to being a contortionist with the skill to control all that mobility. It also includes a client who I've been working with regularly for a few months. I'll call her K.

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On the Practice of Being Well
Happiness and Well-Being are practically synonymous in my culture of middle-class Americana. In fact, the definition of well-being according to Merriam-Webster is "the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous.” Thus, by definition, happiness is a subset of well-being—one of three potential avenues. (Interestingly, the Oxford English Dictionary has a slightly, yet profoundly, different definition: "The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.” ) I believe it can be useful, functional, and freeing to challenge this definition.

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Happiness and Wellbeing
“Owing to the close proximity to the motor cortex of the brain structures dealing with thought and feeling, and the tendency of processes in the brain tissue to diffuse and spread to neighboring tissues, a drastic change in the motor cortex will have parallel effects on thinking and feeling.

A fundamental change in the motor basis within any single integration pattern will break up the cohesion of the whole and thereby leave thought and feeling without anchorage in the patterns of their established routines. In this condition, it is much easier to effect changes in thinking and feeling, for the muscular part, through which thinking and feeling reaches our awareness has changed and no longer expresses the pattern previously familiar to us. Habit has lost its chief support, that of the muscles, and has become more amenable to change.”
-Moshe Feldenkrais, Awareness Through Movement

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Self-Image -- Knowing or Doing?
Neuroscientists using fMRI have been finding that the same areas of the brain are active when stimuli are organized into perception as when motor (action) planning is done. Apparently our perceptions are importantly a function of our current repertoire of possible actions, and clarifying the perceived image involves choosing an image of action. So how do we explain how we do anything new? Wait. Can we give a simple account of the doing without the explaining? That would be like telling a story, wouldn't it? Interesting. Perhaps self-image makes more sense, is more complete, as a self-story of actions.

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Putting the Potency of our Physical "Roots" into Practice
While I've been blessed with many inspiring teachers in my life, nature has been my consistent mentor throughout my career as a Feldenkrais practitioner.

One of my clients, "J," wanted help with her breathing and with reducing anxiety. During our first session, we talked about what made her feel safe. It was a pretty short list. I needed some information so I could begin our lesson establishing some sense of trust. As we talked, J's eyes mostly looked over my right shoulder or toward the floor. I noticed my own chest tightening in response to her halted breathing pattern. I sensed J was preparing for something bad to happen at any moment. The topic of safety seem to make her squirm until I saw her eyes lock onto something behind me.

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Reaching A Deeper Consensus of Reality
"By reaching the lower and fundamental motor layers of self we facilitate a deeper reorganization of the personality." Moshe Feldenkrais, Body and Mature Behavior

I was taking a class online when one day I logged into the website to find an ominous message from the professor. "I have to inform you that my husband's brother, his wife, and their two children were lost." The fact that class was cancelled for that week was much less impacting than the intelligence that four people were missing: "lost" being a euphemism that expresses the only way the mind can take in evidence of the tenuous nature of life itself, at least with the initial shock of recognition. This capacity for awareness that our lives are finite is one of the distinguishing characteristics of human consciousness that must be confronted by each and every one of us at some point in time. Usually, it does not happen at a time of our own choosing. How we cope can either be dominated by holding on -- with a death grip -- or it can signify an opportunity for softening into a deeper recognition of the mysterious nature of being alive. We can either willfully defy this unwanted reality, exerting great effort to maintain some illusion of control, or we can awaken to the futility of trying to use force to shape personal reality.

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Who Would You Like To Be?
"What I'm after is to restore each person to their human dignity." Moshe Feldenkrais

I've always been intrigued by humans' fascination with transformation. From Clark Kent in the phone booth to the Transformers phenomenon, we harbor a secret desire to be, if not superheroes, at least something more. Perhaps we sense that we each have the potential to, as Moshe Feldenkrais said, "make the impossible, possible, the possible, easy and the easy, elegant."

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Surviving Pumps
Whether you're buying cross trainers or stilettos, there is a lot more to choosing shoes than color, style, and the way they fit your feet. The wrong shoes can look fabulous but make you feel awful all over. Here are some savvy shoe shopping guidelines based on principles of the Feldenkrais Method. Take them with you on your next shoe shopping expedition and have some fun discovering if a shoe really fits.

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Making Space for the Unfamiliar
Margie has been coming to private sessions in my office for several weeks to get help with neck and shoulder pain. During this most recent session we had begun with some movements of rolling and reaching, and now she was lying on her back, resting. I noticed that her breath was easy, her neck and shoulders were relaxed, her hands were at ease and her low back was comfortable with her legs outstretched. All this was a big change.

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This Drummer's Transformation
Ever since I was a young, I have been passionate about music, especially about playing the drums. Nowadays, I enjoy playing more than ever. I teach and play gigs around the Atlanta, GA metropolitan area. I am also a Feldenkrais practitioner and it is actually because of the Feldenkrais Method that I am even playing drums at all.

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Age, Aging, & Agency
In January while practicing Aikido, I suffered a lateral meniscus tear in the right knee. A few days later, while sitting on the front steps of my home, reaching across myself to the left with the right hand for my backpack, which was sitting on the ground, the right knee seized up painfully. I was unable at the time to extend the joint, and the slightest movement in the lower leg was excruciating. I scootched my way back inside, propelling with the left leg, sliding on my bottom, slinging the right knee with my right forearm and trying to keep the right ankle from moving at all with the left hand. A few hours later, after much experimenting in new ways of locomoting, and without any reduction in pain, I got stuck on the toilet and realized I would need assistance of some sort. After a trip to the emergency room, where I experienced the sweet relief of straightening the leg out somewhat, I was given a brace, some crutches, and for the first time in my post-toddler life, was left to figure out how to get around without weight bearing in both legs.
Anger and the Feldenkrais Method
Recently a client, Daniel, asked me "What is the Feldenkrais perspective on anger?"

Daniel had been attending Feldenkrais sessions monthly for a number of years and had a consistent home practice drawing on a wide range of CDs from many practitioners.

Aside from his interest in the Feldenkrais Method, he was a keen marital artist and spent his days working as a statistician.

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It's All in Your Head
Picture a human skeleton. The kind you see in anatomy classes, hanging on a stand, waiting for students to gather round and count the ribs, or touch the vertebrae. Besides the fact that the skeleton is just a bunch of bones, there is something about each and every one that is different from most real humans. They all look more or less the same. The spine has two little curves, at the neck and at the lower back. The vertebrae stack one on top of the other. The arms and legs hang from the torso. And the head rests on top of the neck. Not in front of the neck, or tilted to one side, or dropping down. Right on top.
The Art of Survival: Becoming Hungry to Learn
Maybe it is my Scandinavian upbringing, but I have always been fascinated with survival. I grew up wondering what it would feel like to be confident enough to survive outside overnight alone in the woods with just the clothes on my back. Could I survive? I grew up as an athlete and an outdoors person, but worried how I would withstand difficult situations, like being stranded in the mountains on the rainy, western side of Washington state. The cold, damp climate of the Northwest is particularly challenging place for survival:

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Grief and Recovery: A Journey of Sensitivity
The death of a loved one is a physical, psychological, and spiritual wound from which one needs to heal gradually and gently over time. When I experienced great loss the shock, disorientation, confusion, desolation, and unbidden weeping that enshrouded the first weeks gave way to deep anguish, mourning, anger, and tears over the next months. Grieving is its own process, a very significant one. Recovery from grief is another matter, an essential process that can seem enormously confusing with no clear path nor timeline.

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The Donkey Cart
Over the past fifteen years I have been giving Functional Integration lessons to equestrians mounted, either privately or in workshops. Riders have a variety of concerns: posture, connection with their horses, balance, honing the cues to specific movements such as a canter pirouette. It is always interesting, challenging and fun teaching riders different ways to be aware of themselves and their horses. This was one of the more unusual Functional Integration requests I've had at a riding workshop.
The Feldenkrais Method meets Formative Psychology
I am very excited that Stanley Keleman, the founder of Formative Psychology, will give the keynote address at the upcoming Feldenkrais Method Conference (this occurred in 2013). It is wonderful to experience Stanley Keleman "live." His decades of embodied studies and practice are palpable. I have been studying with him for over twelve years and each time I hear him speak I am touched by the depth and breadth of his embodied understanding. His approach is inspiring, inclusive and comprehensive. As he describes in his book EMOTIONAL ANATOMY "Life is a whole event and not a series of sub-systems... all life is inter-connected, springing from a common single matrix."
What Would Moshe Do?
Practitioner Spotlight with Dennis Leri: Thriving in Any Circumstance

"What would Moshe do?" In this month's spotlight of those who trained directly with Moshe Feldenkrais, I spoke with Practitioner and Trainer Dennis Leri. He is the Educational Director for Feldenkrais Training Programs in Denver and Berkely. He apprenticed with Moshe at the Feldenkrais Institute in Tel-Aviv, Israel and has been teaching the Method for nearly 30 years.
Transformations: The Story of Peggy D.
At age 65, Peggy D. leapt from the couch into a wonderful world of movement

Sometimes patients come in for physical therapy, fix the problem, and leave. Case closed.

Other times, their lives are transformed in the process of healing. This was the case with one of my patients, Peggy D. She had a frozen shoulder, but she also had postural problems, a painful hip and felt her balance was unsteady.
Using All of Oneself to Ride a Bus in Tanzania
The guidebook had forewarned me that the twelve hour bus from Arusha to Mwanza via Singida was NOT a comfortable one. It was barely tolerable - the most outrageous travel on horrible roads. Arriving at 4:30 AM to my assigned seat at the window in the next to last row, skinny me, I couldn’t squish myself in front of a pole beside the aisle seat, so I climbed over the raw metal arm of the seat, behind the pole to enter the row. I was wet through to my skin before I jumped out of the soaked seat- rain I presume- paused in the next seat to ponder, then worked my way slowly around passengers getting on and baggage in the aisle to the front to inform the conductor that I could not sit there. He was midway through some other dilemma and upon finishing it, he led me to the back of the bus, where I was given the center right seat. It was dry, I could sit there. I nudged firmly to push the boy on my left off a portion of my little seat he had usurped. My neighbor on the right arrived; she was 25 and wide. To her right was a young man who seemed to avoid looking at me.
Unwired & Soft-Wired
In the last issue, I wrote about the advantages of sleep, including its role in clearing waste products from the brain, learning, and memory consolidation. Anecdotally, lessons in the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education have helped many wired people unwire and settle down for more restful sleep.
Feeding, Fighting, Sex and the Feldenkrais Method
Movement is Life: this is a big picture.

A curse and blessing of being a Feldenkrais practitioner is finding over and over the vast web of connections and implications of this work to almost all of human life. I started thinking about how these three elements core to being alive--feeding, sex, and fighting and the Feldenkrais world view could be a jolly dance of exploration. Our work is nothing, if not about exploration. And of course, this is just the beginning.
Integrating clinical hypnosis with Feldenkrais lessons
Psychologist Dr. Carol B. Low and Feldenkrais Practitioner Julie Francis often team up to work with people who exhibit complex symptoms that haven't responded to standard medical interventions. They find that the combination of trauma-informed psychotherapy, often enhanced with hypnosis, and neuromuscular integration using the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education provides the ideal environment in which clients can heal. Here they share their observations on the process.
Active Sitting
When you're busy at your computer, reading, or watching TV, you may forget that you're also sitting--until you get up, and feel pain or stiffness. As with all our activities, how we sit makes a big difference in how we will feel. Feldenkrais lessons help you become aware of how you habitually sit, and what changes would contribute to greater comfort.

Think of your habitual posture as frozen movement--something you did so often that you got stuck there. Are your shoulders raised or forward, as if you were still holding the phone or bag? Do you tend to lean to one side more than another--for instance, when you pick up the phone, or by leaning on your elbow or reaching for the mouse? Over time, this could shorten that side and create an imbalance.
Repetitive Strain Tips
One of the focuses of the Feldenkrais Method is on how we move and what that can that can tell us about how we use ourselves in our lives. Simply paying attention can be the first step to improvements in our daily life activities.